Accessibility of eLearning

Cognitive and linguistic issues

Cognitive and linguistic issues

by Claude Almansi -
Number of replies: 2
The proposal for this thread arises themes that emerged in the getting things started discussion: for instance from Lou Fraise 's remarks on computer use and brain injury, and from  the dialogue on cognitive disabilities /and dyslexia in particular), triggered by Deirdre Bonnycastle's "devil's advocate" post.

As this seminar is about Accessibility of eLearning, it is a great chance to treat more in depth these cognitive and linguistic issues, which often tend to be overshadowed by sensorial and motor issues in discussions about accessibility, at least in my experience.

Cognitive and linguistic issues are also influenced by local culture. For instance, one of the languages of Wikipedia is Simple English, because in the English-language culture, being able to express the most complicated topics in the simplest language is a sign of excellence. But there are no  "Français simple" or "Italiano semplice" Wikipedia languages, because in in French- and Italian-language cultures - in particular in their academic versions - the opposite attitude tends to dominate: putting the simplest things in the most complicated and sophisticated possible style is seen as a way of showing specific competence.

This is a caricatural simplification, of course. But I was wondering if there are other people working in non-English-speaking countries in this seminar who might wish to take up this stylistic issue as well.


In reply to Claude Almansi

Re: Cognitive and linguistic issues

by Lou Fraise -

Of all things, being involved in the I.T. industry for the past 20 years makes me chuckle at this one.  "Simple English", for example, particularly excludes the IT area, which have provided it's own share of confusion for me.  When I could parse "Telecommunications Protocal/Internet Protocol" and break it down into it's linguistic components, I grasped things OK.  Now that we have acronyms like TCP/IP and others being bantered about in sentences with multiple acronyms converging on each other ... well, needless to say, I have to keep lists and refer to them often.  Sometimes in meetings I have to lay aside any thought processes, and just write down acronyms word-for-word, and parse the sentences when I get back to my lists in the office.  I have found my ability to learn, retain, not to mention "contribute on the spot" severely limited by this IT (that's Information Technology,for those of you like me) trend.

Perhaps it's another area for my focus (in another lifetime, of course).  "Simple Geek" A.K.A "Geekopedia" (use-of-acronym pun intended)

In reply to Lou Fraise

Re: Cognitive and linguistic issues

by Christie Mason -
Yes, IT does have it's more than fair share of acronyms (ASP has several definitions) but it is situations where T & E acronyms reuse and redefine tech acronyms and concepts that causes me problems.

I remember when I first started hearing about LCMS and "assumed" it was CMS (Content Management System) with Learner or Learning stuck in front of it.  Wrong, initially it stood for Learning COURSE Management System.  Although somenow define them as Learning CONTENT, conceptually they're still structured as COURSE Management.  Managing courses is about managing content but managing content is NOT about managing courses.  The process of managing content for learning is, should be, no different than managing content for other uses so why attempt to conceptually segregate it?

I'm not sure if knowing the terms behind tech acronyms is helpful (Google for "define:TCP/IP" or "define:ASP").  I've found it better to understand the concepts and learn which term/acronyms people use to refer to those concepts in different environments.  Sometimes the same term means different things in different environments sometimes different terms mean the same things.  It's just like moving to any new environment, it's up to those that are new to the environment to understand the established culture and language. 

Christie Mason